Blackwork is one of those techniques you think should be insanely easy - a couple of basic stitches, a single colour... how complicated can it be? To a certain extent that's true, and if all you want to do is stitch up a pattern you've found to decorate your SCA Elizabethan wench outfit (we all have one, right?) you're well equipped with some double running stitch and black floss. If you want to step outside the bounds of basic blackwork and design beautiful, visually complicated work, this book will show you how.
The blackwork most of us have seen and identified with consists of repeating patterns, called diaper patterns, which created shading on a piece. However that isn't all it has to be - shading can be achieved by varying the thread thickness, by breaking up the diaper pattern or by changing the diaper pattern used in different areas. Becky introduces all of these techniques with photos of stitched examples demonstrating exactly how breaking up a pattern works and what kind of effect thread variance gives.
Becky has also supplied forty pages of example diaper patterns which you can apply to whatever piece you have in mind. They range from the very simple to the impressively complex and she's supplied not only the pattern, but a stitched sample of each.
The icing on the cake, as far as I'm concerned, is that interspersed throughout the book are examples of finished pieces. Stunning pieces created by graduates of the Royal School of Needlework. Drool-worthy pieces. Gorgeous, intimidating and unbelievably inspiring pieces. The book is worth having just for the picture of the tiger, believe me.
Blackwork by Becky Hogg is a technique book aimed at stitchers who wish to create their own blackwork masterpieces. It is more than a casual stitcher needs, but a necessity for those who want to bring their blackwork to the next level (the one called Awesome).
My rating: 5 out of 5 Gold Needles (loaded up with black thread of course).